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Heartbreak for College Athletes

The NCAA released the following statement on March 12th, canceling all remaining winter and spring championships for 2020: “NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors canceled the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships. This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to the spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities.” This statement leads to an unprecedented time in the world of sports and the whole world in general with the impact of Novel Covid-19. No watch parties or pregaming. No upsets or underdogs; no storming the court. Alumni fan clubs, student cheering sections, and campus bars will be quiet for the remainder of the spring semester as U.S. colleges move into unseen territory. Student-athletes and graduating seniors for whom this was the last opportunity for an irreplaceable college experience are dealing with multiple levels of grief, said Susan Krauss Whitborne, a psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts who studies athletes and sports fandom. On top of suddenly being forced to take classes online or move away from campus, the cancellations of sporting events will have a psychological impact on students, especially those who were involved in winter or spring sports, marching band or cheerleading, Krauss Whitborne said. 

One student that was affected by this cancellation and sudden change was SUNY Oswego Senior Lukas Olsson who is the starting Catcher for the Men’s Baseball team. Following the lead of the NCAA and conference office, Oswego has canceled all practices and competitions for the remainder of the spring semester. Olsson was a Three-year varsity athlete. His team was League Champions in 2014 & 2015, Suffolk County Champions in 2014 & 2015, Long Island Champions 2014, and State Champions in 2014. He also made the All-Division team in 2015 and 2016 and won the Gold Glove Outfielder award in 2015 in high school. With this impressive high school career, he made SUNY Oswego’s team his freshman year and played in 20 games starting 15 of those. Maturing into his sophomore year in 2018 he played in 41 games that season starting in 36 of those. Olsson finished second in the conference with 11 runners caught stealing, ranked fourth in the SUNYAC with three triples, and placed eighth in the conference with 20 walks. On top of that, he drove in 17 runs and scored 33 and earned a spot on the D3Baseball.com Team of the Week on April 8 for batting .500 across four Laker wins. In his junior year, he had his best year at SUNY Oswego. Olsson appeared in 43 games for the Lakers, starting in all of them and was named to the all-region team committing only five errors in 221 chances. He finished the season with a slugging percentage of .524 earning five home runs, 11 doubles, and a triple. He earned a top 10 spot in categories of batter average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs (35), hits (47), doubles, home runs, and RBI’s (41) for the SUNYAC conference. Unfortunately, Olsson’s senior season was cut short. He was destined for another great year as he got better every year at SUNY Oswego. With the cancellation of all Spring Sports and Winter championships, these athletes missed a once in a lifetime opportunity.  “Some of them will never put on a uniform or pick up a ball ever again, and their whole experience has changed,” Krauss Whitborne said. “The professional teams want to have their games and play their championships as well, but it doesn’t have that ‘once in a lifetime’ feel.” students had no time to prepare for decisions by college administrators reacting to a fast-changing and escalating public health crisis, and that made things feel worse. Some students got the news while they were away on spring break; some were in the middle of actual games or track meets, while others found out as they were packing to leave their campuses in the wake of mass closures by institutions that are moving instruction online and telling students to go home or not return to their campuses after spring break. With all of this tragedy and heartbreak, the one thing we can think about to get some peace is the fact that sports will never die and will most likely come out of this stronger as leagues and teams.

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